Saturday, April 28, 2012

Participatory action research

While reading about food security issues I came across a new term: Participatory action research, also known as action research. It's a form of experimental research that iteratively evaluates and critiques actions taken to address a problem with the goal of improving the effectiveness of the actions. From my introductory reading it seems PAR aims to involve and listen to those who are directly affected by the issues, rather than act as outside experts with prescribing authority.

 "Essentially Participatory Action Research (PAR) is research which involves all relevant parties in actively examining together current action (which they experience as problematic) in order to change and improve it. They do this by critically reflecting on the historical, political, cultural, economic, geographic and other contexts which make sense of it. … Participatory action research is not just research which is hoped that will be followed by action. It is action which is researched, changed and re-researched, within the research process by participants. Nor is it simply an exotic variant of consultation. Instead, it aims to be active co-research, by and for those to be helped. Nor can it be used by one group of people to get another group of people to do what is thought best for them - whether that is to implement a central policy or an organisational or service change. Instead it tries to be a genuinely democratic or non-coercive process whereby those to be helped, determine the purposes and outcomes of their own inquiry." - Wadsworth, Y. (1998)

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